Taking a day away from usual activities helps to restore a semblance of order to one’s life. Perspective is gained. Appreciation is elevated. New knowledge filters through the mind to lodge in memories.
Yesterday was a day of exploration into places unknown and challenging facts known. For me, it was also a time to take away snippets of useful information; the kind used in a twisted kind of way for story elements and character development. Those are the kind of relaxed and fun days that begin with one purpose and turn out as gold mines. Also, the experience felt much like going home to my dad’s family for the day.
We met up with friends, Sister’s distant cousins, in a small-town restaurant about an hour south of our locale. We had a nice lunch before heading south again to their home in an even smaller town. Our entire purpose for going on this jaunt was so that Sister could shoot the eclipse in an area where she could get good water-reflection shots.
During our scouting adventure, I was taken to places I’d never seen before; places that had escaped my notice when I’d lived in the area twenty years ago. As well, the cousins constantly pointed out places that related to their family histories.
“So and so built that ranch. Who is the latest owner, honey?” Cousin #2 asked as she pointed to the left to a grouping of buildings amid lush pastures. “The original barn’s gone now, of course.”
Gravel roads, dust flying from under the wheels of passing ranch trucks and cars, we made our way from reservoir to reservoir; each with points of interest. On the first we found swans that had been introduced to the waterways. The second, though smaller, was far more serene, more relaxing. Native ducks, muskrats, gulls, all played in the placid water. Further into the hills, we found rock chucks guarding their homes and new calves cavorting among adults.
At last we wound through forested hills up to MacDonald Lake, nestled in the Mission Range; a smaller lake than it used to be, only because it isn’t allowed to fill up the way it used to years ago. The deep teal, crystalline waters, surrounded by pine-covered slopes, beckoned to us. Trails radiated from its sides for the explorer who would challenge grizzlies in the area for prime fishing spots.
From the south-end approach I could only envision one scenario. I saw a scene straight out of Lord of the Rings; the one where the intrepid questers canoed toward their mountain peak destination, along the length of a deep lake with darkly-treed slopes on either side. Magic sparkled before my eyes. I was, in that short moment, transported into a movie about a magical place occupied by hobbits and elves and all things mythical.
When we finally came back to the valley floor, our hosts took us to see the old family homestead.
“Let’s see if they’ve moved the herd out into the front grazing, honey?” our tour guide says as we moved down a gravel road. “When I was by yesterday, the pasture was high and needed to be grazed already.”
And so our indoctrination into family history continued. Ours was a calm adventure made up of laughing memories, local scenery, and points of family interest. All of which came under clouded skies that would never allow for shots of the eclipse, regardless of the camera equipment brought to bear.
A late supper and long drive home left us drained. Bedtime hadn’t looked that far away since our last distant drive at night. Rain followed us as we snaked our way along Highway 93 north along the west shore of Flathead Lake.
I came away with so many impressions to sprinkle here and there amid stories. There were subjects to research later for short essays. And along the way, I captured bits and pieces of personal revelation that will color my days for months. Because their personal histories have been shared so freely, they’ve allowed me to be included in their future histories. That has potential as a special privilege.
I wish everyone could have such a day as mine yesterday. When you have one, take away all that you can from it. Enjoy the uniqueness of it and make it your own. Have a great week all.
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